What Are You Going to Do?
We find ourselves in a crisis in the early Spring of 2020 - a viral pandemic, an unstable stock market, an onrushing recession, social distancing, cancellation of business and sporting events, and quarantine. People are anxious, upset and afraid—many on the edge of panic. Just take a look at the empty shelves at Target and local grocery stores.
For many of your employees, their attention and intention are certainly not entirely on work. The 24/7 news cycle of the increasing cases and predicted mortality consequences keep the coronavirus threat front and center. Then, there is all the added gossip spreading through social media, friends, neighbors, and co-workers.
What are the thoughts and emotions of your seasoned executives, senior managers, and long-term employees? Are they worried about a possible cataclysmic event in physical health or a catastrophic financial occurrence? The longer this pandemic exists, the more infections reported, the more deaths occur, the greater unrest, and for some, despair increases.
Uncertainty, doubt, the loss of control, thoughts of mortality – it's a scary time for people. Your job as a leader is to reduce fear.
Addressing and calming the emotional turmoil existing in your veteran workforce is urgently needed. People are emotionally "charged," and your job as a leader is to reduce the voltage.
The younger employees, on the other hand, aren't nearly as engaged in the crisis. They have more of a sense that they will not be compromised, die, or get severely sick from the virus. They also want to continue to live their lives as they have. They are highly social beings. They think they are invulnerable. And they may not fully realize they are able carriers of the virus and can put others at risk. Your job as a leader is to have them be responsible.
Crisis Calls for Wisdom
In a crisis, wisdom eclipses everything else. I have been consulting and coaching provider-owners and healthcare organizations since 1984. Below is a list of recessions and pandemics in which I, and a number of my more tenured consulting colleagues, have worked with clients guiding them through these times.
- July 1990 - March 1991
- March 2001- November 2001
- December 2007 – June 2009
- Coming soon – April/May 2020
[Note* - I wrote a book titled "Running on Empty" for provider-owners to get through the Great Recession of 2008.]
- Spanish flu
- 2009 flu pandemic
As an experienced consultant and leadership coach, myself and other tenured coaches and consultants have gained sufficient wisdom to guide clients and their enterprises through very rough waters.
Knowledge comes from learning, whereas wisdom comes from experience. You've got to go through "it," whatever the "it" is, to gain wisdom on how to go through "it" successfully when it happens again.
I, and my fellow senior consultants, have expertly navigated these situations before with clients. We can coach leaders to reduce the ever-present anxiety, trepidation, and fear in their workforce. Fear negates thoughtful action – which is what you need now to move through an uncertain and chaotic future.
The eventuality of a recession, continued deep losses in the stock market, quarantine, business stoppages, supply shortages, your anxiety about your own, and your family's well-being, calls for another kind of coaching and consulting to enable leaders to lead successfully. It's not industry expertize, brilliant strategy, proven systems, and structures that are needed in a crisis; it's wisdom.
Form, or have one or more of your Mastermind, YPO, EO, Visage, TECH or other professional groups address what people will do if the pandemic plays out in the worst-case scenario. Make this urgent.
Ask the hard questions. Payroll. Expenses. Customer or patient communications. Figure out what to do if one or two of the members gets shut down. Where will your customers or patients go?
I strongly recommend you retain someone with wisdom to add to your deliberations. Hire someone who has been through these times and events before – get them on your team because wisdom can powerfully assist you in making the needed choices and changes as the ecosystem radically shifts.
Realize you'll need to be far more active individually and locally to address the pandemic issue given the weak support structures in place, along with a lack of clear procedures, protocols and national and state pandemic operational plans.
Realize the needed physical resources may not be available because of disruptions to the systems.
Realize that people will be distraught about the loss of pay if businesses or practices close.
Realize you will need to be the leader that soothes, restores and supports your workforce, so at the end of this episode, they feel devoted to you and appreciative of what you have done for them.
In your planning, there are two questions you need to address for your workforce and your customers/patients directly; 1) "What are you doing about it to keep me safe," and 2) "Am I going to be OK physically and financially? How will I be able to pay my bills if this gets worse, or we need to shut down, or I get sick?"
Finally, whatever group you choose to work with, begin in earnest with a literature review, so you understand the epidemiology. Follow the guidelines of the CDC and WHO. Get clear on how the virus works, spreads, etc.
Announcement: Because of demand, Dr. Cooper has opened more days and hours for coaching and consulting. Senior executives and provider-owners realize how valuable wisdom is during the crisis and need a coach who has been there, done that. They need a coach to help them on a field they have never played on before. To contact Dr. Cooper, email firstname.lastname@example.org